A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of watching my brother graduate from Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Fl. In his homily during the bacheloriate mass, Francis Cardinal Arinze, stated the uniqueness of Mary as: "daughter of the Father, mother of the Son, and spouse of the Holy Spirit." It had not occurred to me before to think of Mary in this multidimensional way, in relation to the Trinity. Since then, and throughout this month of May, the month of Mary, I have begun to reflect more particularly in this triptychal way of our Blessed Mother.
As daughter of the Father, Mary is for us the exemplar of what it means to be totally human. That is, by the singular grace of the Father, she has been saved from the stain of original sin. Her life is thus uncorrupted by concupiscence, which allowed her to live authentically the life of selfless love that we are all called to.
This being true, she was still human, she had all of the same sufferings and temptations that we have. Among all of the daughters and sons of the God of Abraham, from Adam and Eve, to our young ones being born this very moment, Mary stands in our company. Because of her, we have a model of holiness; we have a new way of living--all that had been hoped for is now possible because of the faith of this little girl from Nazareth, the daughter of Joachim and Ann. Without Mary there is no Jesus; without this daughter of the Father, our salvation would not have been made possible.
Theotokos--literally "God-bearer," is a title often attributed to our Blessed Mother. As mother of the Son, Mary is at the same time creature of the Creator, and mother of the Creator. For: "the Father and I are one" (John 10:30). In her created flesh, the flesh of the creator takes form. As the mother of God, she is also our mother, for the human family has been redeemed, and at the same time finds it's identity in the Paschal Mystery of our lord Jesus Christ. Without the Mother, the Son's redemption is not made possible.
In the Theotokos, Jesus is given his human identity. That is, literally he gains all that he is through his mother (his DNA, his looks, his voice, his dialect, facial expressions--everything)! As spouse of the Spirit, the mystery of the Trinity came to dwell within her, in order for the Son to become human. In her fiat, the human race was forever changed, for God humbled himself and became one of us! This is why we refer to her as "full of grace," for in her the fullness of God dwelt among us; in the mystery of the Incarnation, Mary shares perfect communion with God, full of grace, so much so that God came to dwell in her womb. In her fiat, the hope of humanity is made possible.
Devotion to Our Lady is of utter importance. It is sad that our Protestant brothers and sisters see this devotion as idolotrous, because they miss completely the essence of who Our Lady is: Theotokos, the one who brings us Jesus, who knows him more intimately than any other human being, who intercedes to him on our behalf, who is our Mother. Yesterday, we celebrated the feast of a great Italian friend of mine, St. Phillip Neri, who said that we should pray these words in repetition like a rosary if we are serious about our prayer life: "Blessed Mary, virgin Mother of God, pray to Jesus for me!" He says that it is a complete prayer because it recognizes Mary by invoking her blessed name, along with honoring her for who she is as virgin, and mother of God, and it invokes the most holy name of our savior. So let us follow his example and turn to our Mother who is daughter of the Father, mother of the Son, and Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Queen of Peace, pray for us!